Martin Hernandez

SP Vice Mayor Hernandez declares he will run for 3rd District Supervisor

July 06, 2015
Santa Paula News

A “passion” for service is the main reason Santa Paula City Vice Mayor Martin Hernandez said he is running for the seat being vacated by 3rd District Supervisor Kathy Long in 2016.

Hernandez, Long’s chief of staff, a long-time resident of Santa Paula said the experience he has gained during the last 14 years in county government, service on the City Council and his knowledge of issues that especially impact Santa Paulans are factors in his decision, made shortly after Long, the longtime supervisor, announced she would retire.  

He was elected to the City Council by an overwhelming majority in 2012 racking up 500 votes more than his closest competitor.

Hernandez said he is running because “My passion for serving is still strong and as disappointed as I am that Supervisor Long is retiring, I was almost equaling disappointed in my not being able to serve the residents,” of the 3rd District.

“I have almost 15 years of knowledge,” of county operations as well as an appreciation of the needs and priorities of each community in the district.

Hernandez said he has established close working relationships both as Long’s chief of staff and a councilman with county agencies and department heads.

The knowledge has prepared him to hit the ground running to address current regional issues of importance such as public safety, healthcare, and managing the state’s often-threatened natural resources. 

“I am grateful for the opportunities afforded me during my time working for Supervisor Long,” said Martin. “The network and relationships created over the years throughout our cities, county and state places me in a unique position to bring resources when needed. “

Not that his decision was an easy one: “Holly,” Hernandez’s wife of 20 years, “and I took a couple of weeks of soul-searching and I knew I would be on a long road...but in the end my conscience would not allow me not to try.”

Hernandez, a Santa Paula resident for more than 20 years, said by “raising my family here, being in social services here,” as the director of Santa Paula Family Resource Center/Interface Children Family Services, gives him a strong perspective and interest in “serving the most vulnerable populations,” including veterans, seniors and families. 

“I’m intimately aware of the needs in the Santa Clara River Valley,” which would “make me more sensitive to the community than others in the district,” that might seek the supervisor’s seat.

So far three people from Camarillo have expressed an interest in running to represent the district that covers Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, Port Hueneme, Camarillo and portions of South Oxnard and unincorporated areas.

“I was born in the district in Port Hueneme and lived here all my life in Ventura County aside from my years in the Air Force, and the person I am hoping to follow as supervisor had been the chief of staff for her supervisor,” said Hernandez.

He’s come a long way: Hernandez said when he returned from military duty his life was mired in turmoil including his father battling cancer and other issues that became overwhelming.

“It was hard...I got involved with the wrong people,” and turned to substance abuse.

But “That turmoil in my life helped make me the person I am through self soul-searching and self-actualization to be the best I could be. I knew from my military career that I was a public servant and after that dark period I became a counselor for addictions,” a career that led him to eventually directing the SPFRC.

But it also involved commitment, “patience and love of my family and friends. I regret the pain and suffering I put them through during that time,” said Hernandez, “but I do not regret the experience,” as overcoming his past troubles “Made me the husband, son, brother, father and grandfather I am today.”

The end of his first term of council office will coincide with the November 2016 election for the supervisor, but it’s a race that could be decided in the June 2016 primary if any candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote.

Since Hernandez was elected to the council he has worked to ensure that the community had access to the council and became engaged in the decision-making process.  

During his council term the city has balanced it’s budget and purchased the privately owned wastewater treatment plant, “What initially was a terrible deal for the city and the citizens,” that Hernandez said now with city ownership is projected to save residents money by billing rebates.

“I ran for the council because there was a need for change and that was my platform...and the exciting thing is we created change. Personally, I think I’ve done a great job by being the tip of the spear and running on a platform of change to the town, encouraging others to do the same. The voters spoke pretty loud creating a new majority,” in the 2014 election, when “The community got three new council members with new thoughts and ideas, we purchased the treatment plant and balanced a very tight budget without layoffs.”

But being the voice minority until last election was a challenge: “I stood my ground, stated my opinions, relied on research and facts. I was the grocery store people were approaching me and encouraging me to stand tough.”

Hernandez also had to face accusations by then fellow council members that he had a conflict of interest with city matters that dealt with county issues, which he dismisses.

“The county is on the cutting edge of services and Santa Paula benefits,” from mutual aid from the sheriff’s and fire departments to healthcare and other “safety net” programs.

“I would hope the residents of Santa Paula would be proud to have someone from their community serve as a was the county that stepped in and helped save the airport,” when floods in 2005 destroyed part of the runway, has worked to improve creeks, and “Purchased and reopened Santa Paula Hospital. The county is planning a major construction project of a clinic in East Area 1,” that will bring jobs as well as services.

Ventura County is viewed as an innovator, on the forefront of various issues and Hernandez acts as Long’s representative to various committees.

“And, with me being on the board of supervisors and being from Santa Paula I would make sure we are not forgotten,” he noted, “no matter the issues.”

Water is one major issue that Hernandez said needs careful oversight.

A father of four — one son is deceased — and grandfather of five, Hernandez is already garnering support.

Santa Paula Mayor John Procter said, “Martin is a rare blend of intelligence, common sense, compassion and integrity. He possesses the true heart and soul of a public servant and I’m honored to call him a friend.”

Hernandez said such support as well as that from others has been “humbling and frankly overwhelming,” as has been the encouragement from those who would ask about his future plans when Long no longer could serve due to term limits.

“Supervisor Long retired when she had one more term she could have taken and quite frankly I was surprised,” said Hernandez, but he looks forward to the challenge.

“Everything in my life, the good and the bad, has prepared me for this road and not to back down from this challenge. I owe a lot to my parents who always believed in me loved and supported me,” no matter what.

As he thought about running for the supervisor’s seat Hernandez said he thought much about his parents — both now deceased — especially when he used the pruning shears that were a gift from his father.

“Those shears symbolize my father,” said Hernandez. “He came to this country from Mexico, worked hard and became a citizen, then a successful business owner,” of a citrus pruning company. 

“He’s always been an inspiration,” as, noted Hernandez, Talk about overcoming challenges!”

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